The Dinosaur Princess, by Victor Milán
The third volume in Milán’s story of Paradise, the humans abducted into it who now lead armies on the backs of T-Rexes and Triceratops, and the gods who have unleashed their greatest weapon—the Grey Angels—in an attempt to rid Paradise of sin. This volume is as twisty and dense as the first two. The Grey Angels were defeated in battle but are not gone—they remain a mortal threat, and the powers that be among the humans continue to scheme and plot. Montse, youngest daughter of Emperor Felipe, is kidnapped by agents of Trebizon, and the Grey Angels work behind the scenes to foment chaos. The scale is huge, while the shift away from pitched battles and toward political gambits is no less exciting.
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The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin
The first book in Jemisin’s Broken Earth series, Hugo-winner The Fifth Season, is an explosion of ideas, twisting plot points, and clever point-of-view puzzles. The second, The Obelisk Gate, is a masterwork of world-building, developing the history and culture of the Stillness while setting up the clash between mother and daughter that will define a new age. Neither one disappointed in the least, and the final book, The Stone Sky, is certain to be one of the most satisfying concluding novels of the year. Essun has inherited Alabaster’s power to bend the world to her will, and intends to create a place where Orogenes are safe and free. Her daughter Nassun, however, sees what her mother cannot: the power she wields cannot be pure and free from corruption, no matter the intent behind it.
The Court of Broken Knives, by Anna Smith Spark
This grimdark debut is set in the crumbling Sekemleth Empire, once powerful, now ruled by a feckless usurper and a weak aristocracy. Lord Orhan Emmereth knows the only way to save the empire is to find new management, so he hires a company of mercenaries to infiltrate the city of Sorlost and murder the emperor and his court. Among the mercenaries is a young, over-educated drug addict named Marith—a boy who manages to kill a dragon as the company travels to Sorlost, and who is much, much more than he seems.
Call of Fire, by Beth Cato
The sequel to Breath of Earth opens in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco—an earthquake that, in this version of history, hit because the city’s geomancers were betrayed and killed—all save Ingrid Carmichael, who barely survived. She flees north to escape Ambassador Blum and the Unified Pacific, who want to use her mysterious powers to assert their dominance over the world. After her allies Lee and Fenris are kidnapped, she seeks the assistance of none other than Theodore Roosevelt, another Unified Pacific Ambassador, but even his influence proves futile when they reach Seattle, and Ingrid begins to realize her powers may be precisely what starts the war that will tear the world apart.
Hyperion, by Dan Simmons (August 15, Del Rey—Paperback)
Structured similarly to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Simmons’ award-winning sci-fi classic is a singular creation in a singular universe, starting slowly and building into one of the most fully-realized space operas ever created. Filled with fascinating, flawed characters, it tells the tale of a humanity that has formed an arrogant, galaxy-spanning Hegemony after ruining planet Earth. Into this sprawling comes the Shrike, one of the most memorable creations inmodern SF—a creature assembled from razor blades, half-organic, half-mechanical, able to control the flow of time, a deity worshiped by several cults. Across four books, The Hyperion Cantos chews up and spits out every grand genre idea in the playbook (interdimensional travel, revolt by artificial intelligences, time travel), and invents a few new ones in the bargain. It’s essential reading, and it starts here.
What are you reading this week?